Who’s Afraid of Aging Boomers? Ask Statistics Canada

Since the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” opened in my home town of Kelowna, British Columbia, it has become the talk of the seniors who make up more than 19.2% of the city’s population. Watching aging actors portrayed as vibrant, interesting people instead of doddering oldsters — or missing from the action entirely — is a rare experience in a culture where ageism is still an acceptable prejudice.

As baby boomers move out of their peak working years, that may change. It could get worse, if the trend toward pitting generations against each other continues. On the other hand, it could improve if innovative solutions replace gloomy rhetoric.

Statistics Canada has just added to the conversation by releasing another section of the 2011 census, this one on age and sex. To no one’s surprise, the percentage of Canadians 65 or older has increased 14.1% since 2006. That percentage will increase steadily as those born between 1946 and 1965 move into their senior years.

At the same time, the percentage of workers will drop. In 1991, when the first boomers reached 45, only 28.6% of the population was between 45 and 64. In 2011, that figure rose to 42.4%.

Two figures in the report may slightly offset some of the alarm being raised over the report. The first is that there are roughly the same number of people in the 15 to 24 age group as in the 55 to 64. That means there are about as many people entering the workforce as there are preparing to leave it.

The second figure is an increase in toddlers. For the first time in 50 years, the number of children 4 and under increased in every province. While not a population bulge to match the baby boom, it is still an increase that will have an impact. Maybe this time policy makers will actually plan for it.

The implications of the greying of the Canadian populace have demographers and policy makers making a lot of dire predictions, but the phenomenon should surprise no one. While governments were limiting the number of spots open in medical schools and lowering taxes, the need for more doctors and an infrastructure capable of handling an increasing number of seniors kept rolling inexorably forward.

Then, as the first wave of boomers neared their 65th birthdays, the global economy crashed through their retirement savings. It lowered the value of their homes and stripped many of their pensions. It also ensured that a lot of their children would be unable to find jobs and would need financial support. At the same time, the boomers’ aging parents began requiring more assistance.

The impact of an aging populace is very real, but the demographic shift is far more complex than the number of years any generation has spent on the planet. Assuming an entire generation will become an unbearable burden ignores trends such as healthier aging and fewer disabilities.

Besides, if the boomers fulfill fears they will be more demanding oldsters, they will be doing a favor to all those heading into their final years. Less ageism would make the years heading toward the last check-out door a lot better for everyone.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Interesting article and comments.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Interesting article and comments.

Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

They only have reservations about the baby boomers that did not sell out. The yuppies, and savvy boomers made their financial futures, do not depend on Social Security for survival. So when the pre-determined result of the 2012 election s are declared by Fox, 10 minutes after the polls close, the GOP eradication of medicare and Social Secuirty will not have these boomers up in arms. The rest of us will take to the streets, hence the turrets production rise of profits.

Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

Some Boomers went to Viet Nam and never came back, some dropped out and took up drugs as a permanent escape, some went 'back to the land' and learned the simple living skills of their rural grandparents, but with tecno upgrades.Some infiltrated the status quo system to bust it, some stayed and became 'yuppies', but some got savy and began revealing how rigged the game was against the poor and middle class.Playing by the rules was code for if you can jump thru all these hoops, we might let you win once in a while. But where ever they went, they learned the skills, inovated and demanded a better deal. They did the inner emotional growth work that led to greater self esteem, they explored the human potential movement, and intergrated the conscious awareness stages of Eastern thought. And some just fallowed mainstream America into the bad dream. The Boomers are diversity in living color so if you're your going to say anything about us, state which aspects you're talking about and let's see if you can see both ends of that spectrum. Peace and Love Sisters and Brothers. It's the Dawning of the Age of Aquarious!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 5 years ago

I agree with some here who feel the boomers were the last well educated generation. We were innovators who laid the foundations for the current tech advances.Youth today often is pampered, as were boomers to a degree, but boomers had parents who suffered war & deprivation & taught us the lessons of responsibility.Today all the little darlings are told they have self esteem without earning it, are given the newest gadgets but can't even communicate face to face, no one is allowed to fail in school & helicopter parents hover like bees.Some lack initiative & expect information to be pre digested & instant with no sense of delayed gratification or industry to achieve results.That is where some boomers failed to pass on what their parents taught them.Boomers weren't perfect but I feel were more aware & involved so, yes, the powers that be fear them. I think their attitude of "we're not dead yet" is refreshing as those in the past often figured, hell, we're to old to do that! As long as you're alive, keep learning & active.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders5 years ago

Politicians should be afraid of us. There are a lot of us without much to lose. A few might consider that with only a few tears of life left anyway, the consequences of taking out some idiot might be worth it.
Not advocating violence, juts reminding those who want to take away voting rights, etc., that maybe you should take away our guns first.

Joe R.
Joe R5 years ago

A most interesting time.

Edith B.
Edith B5 years ago

We boomers are the last in our societies who really got an education, so YES, we are dangerous.i

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Hey no boomers- no brains. Sounds bad- but so much truth looking around.

Dee D.
De D5 years ago

thanks for posting....